New La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor strengthens ties during India visit

20th March 2024, Delhi: Australia’s La Trobe University has identified key areas to further strengthen its longstanding commitment to Indian Research and Education partnerships during a visit by the University’s New Vice-Chancellor. Professor Theo Farrell, who began as Vice-Chancellor in February this year, has met with a range of Industry, Government, and Trade Representatives during a five-day visit to the country.

New La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor strengthens ties during India visit

La Trobe has a proud and successful history in India, partnering with tertiary institutions and organizations on projects that benefit both countries and helping develop India’s brightest minds through joint education opportunities.

During his visit, Professor Farrell convened several Roundtable discussions with Partners, Industry, and Government Representatives, on opportunities to collaborate on areas of mutual interest that address national priorities and that are important for Industry Innovation and Development.

Professor Farrell said there were several priority areas for La Trobe that presented opportunities for deepening relationships in India and developing new partnerships.

These include continuing to support and expand student exchanges in India and Australia; developing research focussed on digital technologies and skills innovations; research commercialization opportunities, and linkages with industry partners. Deepening mutual industry partnerships play to La Trobe’s strengths in areas including smart cities, sustainable agriculture and food security, bio innovation, and in health and care innovation.

“Some of La Trobe’s most important university partners are in India, and we are building important partnerships with industry and businesses in India that leverage our significant expertise in areas including sustainable food and agriculture, health and wellbeing, technology and bio-innovation, ”Professor Farrell said.

“Our expertise in bio-innovation has recently been recognised by BioNTech, one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, who have chosen La Trobe’s Melbourne campus as the base for its new mRNA manufacturing facility to develop and test cancer treatments. “In addition, we’re committed to institutional cross-learning, joint intellectual programs and research, collaborative approaches that address industry challenges and joint educational partnerships that provide important valuable learning opportunities for students.”

Opportunities for further collaboration and engagement were also discussed at a Leadership Roundtable of all member Universities of the Asian Smart Cities Research Innovation Network (ASCRIN), which was founded by La Trobe University in 2019 and is now its Single Largest Research Internationalisation Initiative with joint investment of more than AUD $43 million (Rs 235 crores)

ASCRIN brings together a network of researchers, global industry partners, government collaborators, and start-ups to advance research into smart city-related projects, helping to improve the sustainability, livability, and efficiency of cities and towns in the region.

“The Network, with over 250 researchers, has already made significant strides in curating a strong portfolio of impact-based projects aimed at enhancing sustainability, liveability, and efficiency of cities and towns in the region. Our vision is now to build on this and accelerate engagement with industry and government to fast-track commercialisation and adoption pathways,” said Professor Aniruddha Desai, ASCRIN Founder and Co-Director of IIT Kanpur – La Trobe University Research Academy.

The Network has over 50 projects underway that will make a tangible difference in the lives of people in India, including:

• Data-driven decision-making to improve Dairy supply chains.

• Re-using construction and demolition waste to reduce landfill.

• Intelligent planning of energy grids to optimize consumption and reduce costs.

• Using sensors to improve indoor growing conditions of medicinal crops.

• Real-time crash prediction in traffic on urban roads and intersections to increase the safety of all road users.

The Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) last year joined other leading tertiary institutions, the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT-K) and Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (BITS-Pilani) as partners in the Network, which already includes more than 250 researchers and over 70 Joint-PhD projects.

Professor Farrell and Pro Vice Chancellor of TISS, Professor Shankar Das also announced a Joint- PhD program, which will support Indian students to conduct research addressing the growing challenges of urbanization in Asia.

The La Trobe delegation will celebrate the finalists and winners of the Annual Technology Infusion Grand Challenge, which is designed to encourage undergraduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and Business fields to be confident in their skills and knowledge to produce a solutions and solve a concrete problem using next-generation smart technologies.

Over 130 students in some 67 teams from 18 universities in the region submitted innovative entries.

Professor Farrell will also visit Mahindra University, where La Trobe has launched a joint Bachelor’s degree program in civil engineering.

The collaboration, initiated in 2023, aligns with India’s National Education Policy 2023 and Australia’s Education Strategy for India, offering a unique opportunity for students to pursue their Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with two years at Mahindra University and two years at La Trobe University. Students will receive a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from both Universities.

Shah Rukh Khan La Trobe University PhD Scholarship of USD 225,000 (AUD), awarded to New Delhi Student

Shah Rukh Khan La Trobe University PhD Scholarship of $225,000 (AUD), awarded to New Delhi Student

(L to R) Dr Stacey Farraway, DVC (Future Growth), Samaira Khan-Winner of SRK La Trobe University Ph.D. Scholarship of $225,000 (AUD) with Prof Theo Farrell, Vice-Chancellor & President, La Trobe University, Australia

New Delhi,20th March 2024 The second prestigious Shah Rukh Khan La Trobe University PhD Scholarship was today presented to a New Delhi student with a passion to improve health outcomes for vulnerable communities, to study in Australia.

During a Gala Dinner in Delhi, La Trobe University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Theo Farrell presented Sumaira Khan with the 2024 Shah Rukh Khan La Trobe University PhD Scholarship, valued at more than $225,000 (AUD).

Sumaira was selected from a competitive field of applicants from across India for the four-year scholarship, which recognizes the humanitarian and social justice achievements of Shah Rukh Khan (SRK). The PhD scholarship was made possible through La Trobe’s long-standing partnership with the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne.

Designed to support aspiring female Indian researchers who want to make a meaningful impact in the world, the scholarship enables Sumaira to undertake research at La Trobe’s state-of-the-art facilities in Melbourne, Australia.

Sumaira will work with medical anthropologists Dr Tarryn Phillips and Dr Catherine Trundle to identify ways to improve healthcare for South Asian migrant women in Australia with an elevated risk of Type 2 diabetes. The study seeks to understand the factors that shape and constrain the ability to practice self-care, and inform improved healthcare design, access and equity for healthcare programs in Australia and India.

“I’m very grateful to receive the Shah Rukh Khan scholarship. It’s life-changing for me and my family, and I’m excited to interact with La Trobe’s global community of researchers. It really is my proudest achievement,” Sumaira said.

Shah Rukh Khan said he was delighted to support the development of Indian women to pursue solutions to challenges affecting not just Indian communities, but global issues.

“Sumaira’s passion to improve health outcomes for vulnerable communities is inspiring, and her journey is a wonderful lesson to other Indian women who want to improve lives through scientific study,” Mr Khan said.

“I am pleased to be able to support Sumaira’s ongoing development and education with this scholarship at La Trobe University in Melbourne.”

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor, Professor Theo Farrell, said the University was proud to continue the Shah Rukh Khan La Trobe University PhD Scholarship to a student, whose goal is to support some of the most vulnerable in our community.

“This ongoing scholarship is testament to the strong relationship and shared vision La Trobe has with Mr Khan to inspire positive change through education and find solutions for some of the most challenging issues facing the world,” Professor Farrell said.

“We are delighted to welcome Sumaira to La Trobe.”

Indian Film Festival of Melbourne Director Mitu Bhowmick thanked La Trobe for its ongoing support for furthering the educational opportunities for Indian women.

“I am delighted our festival has been able to bring together SRK and La Trobe University for this scholarship, which provides life-changing opportunities for young Indian female students and inspires future generations,” she said.

Sumaira’s passion for public health grew from her own family’s experiences accessing care for her younger brother when he was diagnosed with severe autism.

In 2022, Sumaira graduated with a Master of Public Health from Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), where she received the academic prize for best first year student for achieving the highest grades in her cohort.

She has since completed an internship with Save the Children and Sangath, investigated women’s experiences of open defecation in Delhi and explored the research area of early childhood development in India. Sumaira has also worked with a social development research organization in India exploring the domains of primary health care system strengthening and vaccine hesitancy.

“I’m amazed that I have this opportunity to do research in Australia, I hope my story can connect with young girls across India to inspire them to achieve more, to believe that it’s possible for young women to follow their dreams,” she said.

The first recipient of the Shah Rukh Khan La Trobe University PhD Scholarship, Gopika Kottantharayil Bhasi, has completed the first year of her PhD into a field-deployable diagnostic test for honeybee viruses, and with the aim of developing therapies to aid honeybee health.

La Trobe was the first Australian university to award Shah Rukh Khan with an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) during a ceremony at the University’s Melbourne campus in 2019. In recognition of SRK’s wide-ranging humanitarian work, including establishing the Meer Foundation to support and empower women who have survived acid attacks in India.

Taste the Wonders of Australia at Aahar 2024

New Delhi, 12 March 2024:

To leverage the opportunities from the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA) and the increasing demand from the Indian middle class for premium agrifood products, Australian premium food & beverage companies will showcase the best of Australian premium agrifood products at Aahar 2024 to connect with the Indian businesses and consumers.

Mr John Southwell Trade and Investment Commissioner – South Asia, Australian Trade and Investment Commission

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) in partnership with the state governments of New South Wales and Victoria is bringing together 20+ Australian brands to showcase their products at the Australian Pavilion located at Hall No.1, Stand No.1G-02A in Aahar 2024.

The Australian pavilion at Aahar 2024 will showcase products across different categories ranging from sheep meat, seafood and aquaculture, horticulture, grains and pulses and premium health food products.

Australia’s reputation for clean, green and safe produce makes Australia a compelling destination to develop, commercialise, scale and source the next generation of agriculture and food technologies.

Taste the Wonders of Australia

Coinciding with Aahar 2024, the Australian High Commissioner to India, HE Philip Green OAM is hosting the inaugural ‘Taste the Wonders of Australia’ event on 7 March 2024 at the Australian High Commission, New Delhi.

The event will provide an opportunity Indian and Australian businesses to come together to network, enjoy Australian food and beverage and celebrate the depth of our bilateral relationship. The event menu will be curated by Indian celebrity Chef Saby using the Australian ingredients and produce.

The event is being delivered in partnership with ANZ Bank, HCL Technologies, Linfox, HSBC Bank and Qantas Airways. Products featured have been generously provided by Avocados Australia, Meat and Livestock Australia, Tassal, Western Australian Government, Treasury Wine Estates and Saint Andrews Beach Brewery.

Speaking about the Australian participation at Aahar 2024, Mr John Southwell, Trade and Investment Commissioner – South Asia, Australian Trade and Investment Commission said, “India and Australia’s bilateral ties have seen remarkably strengthened over the years, and our produces in various sectors have grown exponentially. It is this partnership and shared prosperity that has motivated us to bring our products to India and collaborate with local importers to enhance trade relations and further strengthen the bond between our two nations. We can see Australian products featuring more and more in Indian cuisine, from dals to lamb biryani paired with premium Australian wine. If you are after fine high-quality, great tasting products – come and visit us at Aahar.”